Features

Me I Want A Hula Hoop – This Week’s Links

...and we’re back! Bumper catch-up edition this week, so let’s get stuck right into the links, for what we do in links echoes in eternity.

Cue the dramatic music… This week’s news.

• Diving back into the world of comics news with the announcement that Gina Gagliano’s time at Random House Graphic is at an end, having served as the founding editor for the imprint, which was first announced back in May 2018

• Elsewhere, continuing the now storied tradition of digital comics platforms with esoteric names, Zestworld, a subscription-based portal, was introduced to the world this week, promising to rebalance IP rights for creators, and presumably looking to rival Substack’s forays into the comics world, with Eric Canete, Amanda Conner, Phil Jimenez, Jimmy Palmiotti, Alex Segura, and Peter Tomasi lined up to develop the all-important first-wave of content that will keep the lights on and the investors happy.

• Washington’s Kitsap Sun reports on Port Orchard-based comics publisher Arledge Comics receiving a Human Rights Campaign and Showtime ‘Queer to Stay’ Small Business Grant, which will allow the publisher “to re-expand where we were forced to cut back [due to COVID-19]. This means new projects, debuting brand-new graphic novels and paying queer content creators to do what they love.”

• Reaching the climax of 2021's book award calendar, and Roy Schwartz' Is Superman Circumcised?, charting the parallels between the mythology of the Last Son of Krypton and Jewish culture and tradition, has won The Bookseller's 2021 Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, with Schwartz quoted as saying "The competition was stiff, but I’m glad I was able to rise to the challenge." Nice.

• Finally this week, checking in on the riveting world of supply chain logistics, which is giving the comics industry no end of grief at the moment, as CNBC reports that threatening to fine carriers of shipping containers left sitting around at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles (through which 40% of US-bound sea freight travels) is having the desired effect, with a resultant  33% reduction in loitering cargo. There are now 22 days until Christmas.

Blinded by the light… This week’s reviews.

TCJ

• Michael O’Connell reviews the frustrating beauty of Dave Sim and Carson Grubaugh’s The Strange Death of Alex Raymond - “In a photo of an awkward handshake between Raymond and Milton Caniff, Sim detects a glint of something critical in the eye of the creator of Terry and the Pirates. Is there something there? Maybe. But probably not. That’s what’s ultimately dissatisfying about reading SDOAR and makes it challenging to recommend. Sim wants us to sympathize with the creator’s struggle but does little to make us like him or care about his obsession. Like him and Grubaugh, the reader wants to just finish the damn thing.”

• Anya Davidson reviews the spectacular detail of Laura Weinstein’s The Gift of Time - “The same story forms exist in comics journalism as in print journalism:  the editorial, the feature article, the explainer. Comics journalism has exploded in popularity since the early 90’s, when my personal aesthetic, and, I assume, Weinstein’s, was forming. Traditionally, I’ve been allergic to work that looked slick or digital, and storytelling that eschews the id, but something interesting has happened as I age. I’ve become less rigid, and more open to the idea of comics playing a variety of cultural roles.”

• Hillary Brown reviews the woogly intensity of Mirion Malle’s This Is How I Disappear, translated by Aleshia Jensen and Bronwyn Haslam - “Everyone understands that when you text someone a little yellow smiley laughing so hard that tears are coming out of its eyes, it’s not very likely that you’re actually amused to the point of crying. Hyperbole is the lingua franca of our era, with everything being best or worst, amazing or trash because we’re swamped by content and it’s the easiest way to get noticed. No one’s here for your take that such and such is a solid B-, even though the vast majority of creative efforts do fall into a middle range.”

• Timothy Callahan reviews the beautiful interpretations of Tobias Tak’s Canciones: Of Federico García Lorca - “Tobias Tak’s adaptation isn’t merely a batch of typeset lines of verse accompanied by drawings. Tak, very much in the vein of late-period Panter at his most supernatural and dreamlike, etches full pages and panel sequences in ink with delicate colors on every page. Tak also incorporates the García Lorca verse into the drawings, hand-lettering the poetry in both English and Spanish throughout the volume. Canciones is a masterful work, a collaboration across generational and international lines.”

• Paul Karasik reviews the unpredictable questions of R. Kikuo Johnson’s No One Else - “Like Chekhov, Johnson captures the plainness -- and individual particularity -- of ordinary lives on this Earth. Like Chekhov, what is not shown and said, shows and says plenty. Throughout the book, scenes begin in mid-action with conversations already in progress. Specificity of setting, gesture, costume, and dialogue gives readers all the data needed to fill those gaps, becoming curious visitors, noticing more, guessing, inferring, engaging.”

 

AIPT

• David Brooke reviews the epic scope of Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Jimenez, et al’s Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1; and the rich triumph of Mike Mignola et al's Sir Edward Grey: Acheron.

• Robert Reed reviews the assertive beginning of John Ridley, Juann Cabal, et al’s Black Panther #1.

• Nathan Simmons reviews the bombastic introduction of Donny Cates, Ryan Ottley, et al’s Hulk #1.

• Ryan Sonneville reviews the odd meanderings of Tini Howard, Albert Foche, et al’s X-Corp: Volume 1.

• Holly Woodbury reviews the adorable accessibility of Victoria Grace Elliot’s Yummy: A History of Desserts.

• Christopher Franey reviews the perfect landing of Chip Zdarsky, Manuel Garcia, et al’s Daredevil #36.

• Alex Cline reviews the polished gags of Okina Baba, Gratinbird, et al’s So I’m a Spider, So What? The Daily Lives of the Kumoko Sisters: Volume 1.

 

The Beat

• Arpad Okay reviews the heartfelt perspectives of Mari Ahokoivu’s Oksi, translated by Silja-Maaria Aronpuro.

• Joe Grunenwald reviews the well-crafted action of Marieke Nijkamp, Enid Balám, et al’s Hawkeye: Kate Bishop #1.

• Avery Kaplan reviews the thought-provoking characters of Terry Blas, Claudia Aguirre, et al’s Lifetime Passes; and the meta perspectives of Dav Pilkey’s Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives.

 

Broken Frontier

• John Trigonis reviews the immersive horror of Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s Harrow County Library Edition.

• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the long-winded insights of James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, et al’s The Department of Truth Vol. 2: The City Upon a Hill.

• Andy Oliver has reviews of:

- The appealing showcase of Ramzee et al’s LDN.

- The haunting evocativeness of Gareth Brooke’s Home.

- The eloquent experimentation of Peony Gent’s Nottingham to London.

- The layered storytelling of Molly Naylor and Lizzy Stewart’s Lights, Planets, People!.

- The unsettling horror of Douglas Noble and Mark Stafford’s Ripple in the Dark.

- The foreboding melancholy of Zoe Maeve’s The Gift.

 

Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C reviews the powerful authenticity of R. Kikuo Johnson’s No One Else, the unfiltered absurdism of Chris Cajero Cilla And Greg Petix’s Swonknibus, and the cohesive weaving of Mike Freiheit’s Go F❤ck Myself: The F❤ckpendium.

 

From Cover to Cover

Scott Cederlund and Mike Baxter have capsule reviews of some recent releases, including Chip Zdarsky and Jacob Phillips’ Newburn #1; Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, et al’s Primordial #2; Tyler Boss, Matthew Rosenberg, et al’s What’s the Furthest Place from Here; and Walter Mosley, Tom Reilly, et al’s The Thing #1.

 

House to Astonish

Paul O’Brien reviews the odd morals of Gerry Duggan, Emilio Laiso, et al’s X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comics #5-12; and the superfluous plot of Rob Liefeld, Chad Bowers, Bryan Valenza, et al’s X-Force: Killshot Anniversary Special #1.

 

Library Journal

Tom Batten has capsule reviews of the essential hilarity of EC Segar’s Popeye, Vol. 1: Olive Oyl and Her Sweety, and the exemplary madness of Junji Ito’s Deserter.

 

Multiversity Comics

• Gregory Ellner reviews the odd artwork of Stephanie Phillips, Mike Hawthorne, et al’s Wonder Woman: Evolution #1.

• Matthew Blair reviews the glaring tropes of Brian Michael Bendis, Stephen Byrne, et al’s Joy Operations #1.

• Robbie Pleasant reviews the exciting progressions of Jason Aaron, Christopher Rucchio, Ed McGuinness, Steve McNiven, David Baldeon, Javier Garro, et al's Avengers #50.

• Mark Tweedale reviews the refined levity of Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Christopher Mitten, Ben Stenbeck, et al’s Hellboy: The Silver Lantern Club #2; and is joined by David Harper to review the inscrutable joys of Mike Mignola et al’s Sir Edward Grey: Acheron.

 

The Nation

Zito Madu reviews the wonderful ambitions of It's Life as I See it: Black Cartoonists in Chicago, 1940 - 1980, edited by Dan Nadel.

 

The New York Times

Ed Park reviews the blue shift of Matt Madden’s Ex Libris and R. Kikuo Johnson’s No One Else.

 

Publisher’s Weekly

Have Capsule Reviews of:

- The frenetic playfulness of Julie Doucet’s Time Zone J.

- The contemplative empathy of Toranosuke Shimada’s Robo Sapiens: Tales of Tomorrow, translated by Adrienne Beck.

- The avant-garde drama of Tardi’s The True Story of the Unknown Soldier, translated by Jenna Allen.

- The delightful clarity of Peter Hoey and Maria Hoey’s Animal Stories.

- The imaginative gems of Ana Galvañ’s Afternoon at McBurger’s, translaed by Jamie Richards.

- The weighty trauma of Emily Carrington’s Our Little Secret.

 

Solrad

Tom Shapira reviews the precise sensations of Yoshiharu Tsuge’s Red Flowers, translated by Ryan Holmberg.

 

Women Write About Comics

• Bishop V Navarro reviews the satisfying narrative of James Tynion IV, Tate Brombal, Chris Shehan, et al’s House of Slaughter #1.

• Kate Tanski reviews the obtuse distractions of Marieke Nijkamp, Enid Balám, et al’s Hawkeye: Kate Bishop #1.

• Emily Lauer reviews the satisfying delights of Victoria Grace Elliot’s Yummy: A History of Desserts.

• Kathryn Hemmann reviews the exceptional honesty of Lee Lai’s Stone Fruit.

• Magen Cubed reviews the undermined action of Dave Franchini, Julius Abrera, et al’s Belle: Headless Horseman.

I’ve stopped being Russia now… This week’s interviews.

TCJ

• James Romberger interviews R. Kikuo Johnson about No One Else, portraying a true depiction of Hawaii, changing approaches to storytelling, and living in the age of great debut graphic novels - “When I pick up a Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes collection, I find that I've read 20-30 strips before I realize that I'm even reading. I really wanted to try to make a book that was this inviting and intuitive to read. Also the wide range of emotion Schulz and Watterson achieve with so few marks was something I wanted to take a stab at.”

• RJ Casey interviews Derek M. Ballard about parenthood and childhood, experiences of juvenile detention facilities, life in Mobile, intellectual property rights, and post-eroticism - “You know, it took me a long time to do anything autobiographical. Especially after everything that’s happened to me over the last few years and then COVID, now I feel like it would be completely dishonest if I wasn’t talking about this and putting this stuff down on paper. I got to a point where I just had to. Hearing myself say it — you know what it is? When I make a comic about it, I can make it funny. Right now, I sound emo. [Laughter.]”

 

AIPT

• Chris Hassan speaks with Lauren Amaro, Mark Basso, Drew Baumgartner, Sarah Brunstad and Anita Okoye about editing Marvel’s line of X-Men books, career paths, workflows, and job advice.

• David Brooke talks to Matthew Rosenberg about Task Force Z and DC vs Vampires, project planning, and keeping the status quo weird.

• Chris Coplan chats with Cynthia von Buhler about Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Electrified Tesla, noir pulp conventions, death rays, and enjoyable research; and with Mark Millar about King of Spies, Netflix deals, challenging Britain’s status quo, and the cultural absence of spy fatigue.

 

Anime News Network

Lnyzee Loveridge interviews Sōsuke Tōka about Ranking of Kings, making a manga debut at the age of 41, loving happy endings, and peaceful media inspirations.

 

The Beat

• Julio Anta and Henry Barajas talk about the social context of Latinx comics, personal privilege, guiding principles, and the comics industry’s lack of Latinx representation on all levels.

• Heidi MacDonald interviews Ashleigh Gardner about Wattpad Webtoon Unscrolled, corporate goals, market diversity, and distribution plans.

• Avery Kaplan talks to Terry Blas about Lifetime Passes, esoteric story pitches, intergenerational bonds, and the challenges of writing for licensed characters.

• Ricardo Serrano Denis speaks with Matt Kindt about Apache Delivery Service, collaborative conversations, the quirks of the human brain, and innate curiosity.

• Deanna Destito chats to Garth Ennis about Hawk the Slayer, lifelong fandoms, enticing new readers, and favourite characters.

 

Broken Frontier

Andy Oliver interviews George Wylesol about 2120, analog and digital adventure games, liminal spaces, and tactile texture processes; and Taki Soma about Sleeping While Standing, the therapeutic relief of tackling demons in comics, non-linear narratives, and making the move to digital processes.

 

Entertainment Weekly

Christian Holub speaks with Danny DeVito about Gotham City Villains, bringing Catwoman and the Penguin together, and bringing COVID-19 to Gotham.

 

Forbes

• Rob Salkowitz talks to Comic-Con International’s David Glanzer about last weekend’s Comic-Con Special edition, and follows up with a scene report from the event.

• Jeff Conway speaks with Danny DeVito about Gotham City Villains, the allure of the Penguin, and keeping Michelle Pfeiffer in the loop.

• Josh Weiss interviews Mike Mignola about The Amazing Screw-On Head’s 20th Anniversary, getting back in the saddle illustrating the world of Hellboy, and being the subject of a documentary.

 

From Cover To Cover

Mike Baxter chats with Ricky Miller about Avery Hill diving into the world of crowdfunding campaigns, and maintaining a broad publishing mandate.

 

GoComics

Presents a conversation with Cathy Guisewite about 45 years of Cathy, returning to cartooning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing reappraisal of Cathy by readers old and new.

 

The Los Angeles Times

Dorany Pineda speaks with retailers Jamie Newbold and Aaron Trites, about the return of in-person comics events to San Diego, and business life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Multiversity Comics

Brian Salvatore continues a look back at DC’s New 52, interviewing Judd Winnick about Batwing, editorial planning, changing mediums, storytelling carte blanche, and DC’s lack of cultural diversity.

 

NeoText Review

Cole Hornaday speaks with David Lasky about You Are Now In Bedford Falls, winter depression cures, the quirky intimacy of the small screen, and the irony of Christmas in America.

 

NPR

Scott Simon talks to Huda Fahmy about Huda F Are You?, maternal consternation, the autobio aspects of a fictionalised memoir, and the confusion of trying to fit in; and to Sophia Glock about Passport, having intelligence operatives for parents, learning to deflect, and discovering the world of independent comics.

 

Polygon

Susana Polo speaks with Jeff Smith about the 30th anniversary of Bone, lucky breaks, iconic images, media influences, and comedic timing.

 

Publisher’s Weekly

• Heidi MacDonald interviews R. Kikuo Johnson about No One Else, life getting in the way, falling into editorial illustration, and keeping humour dry.

• Cheryl Klein talks to Emily Carrington about Our Little Secret and looking inward to heal, and to Sophia Glock about Passport and illustrating one’s own unique family history.

 

Smash Pages

Alex Dueben chats to Jon Adams and Ellis Rosen about Send Help!, comics career paths, desert island cartoons, and anthology curation.

 

SYFY Wire

Matthew Jackson talks to Phillip Kennedy Johnson about Action Comics, giving Superman a real challenge, and what makes Superman super.

 

The Washington Post

Michael Cavna interviews Ray Billingsley about thirty three years of Curtis, winning 2021’s Reuben Award, and living life on a deadline, and speaks with Billinglsey’s peers and colleagues about the importance of his work.

 

Women Write About Comics

Alenka Figa talks to Sophia Glock about Passport, color palette development, supporting childhood memories with diaries, and adolescent comics habits.

Veni, vidi, legi… This week’s features and longreads.

• Here at TCJ, Robert Peterson goes spelunking to determine just what language roots it is that comic art is drawing from - “A series, where the images are thematically related, can be found in a sequence, but a sequence will employ this strategy for some portion of the total narrative and then move on to some other narrative strategy. The sequence cannot be found in a series because all of the elements in a series must be equal and ordered without deviation in form or theme. The complexity and flexibility of the sequence is such that every other kind of narrative mode can be contained within a sequence. This makes sequences very hard to define, especially if you are looking to single out a particular feature, but it also means that a sequence of images possess the DNA of the whole history of narrative art. To understand that history is to deepen one's understanding of what is possible in the art of sequences.”

• Also at TCJ, Ryan Holmberg writes in remembrance of Shirato Sanpei, sharing an article from Ax #144, highlighting the injustice of the relative dearth of translations of Sanpei’s work - “Shirato’s Ninja bugeichō: The Legend of Kagemaru (1959-62) and The Legend of Kamuy showed me that manga could be history, politics, philosophy, art, subculture, and entertainment all in one, hooking me for life. Much of what I know about pre-modern Japanese social history comes from reading and researching Shirato’s work.”

• For TCJ, Jon Holt and Teppei Fukuda present translations of recent remembrances by Natsume Fusanosuke of Saitō Takao and Shirato Sanpei - “In the 1960s and 1970s, we can say that Shirato and those around him created a production style of manga creation, which was becoming more and more industrial. In that sense, Shirato’s achievements in manga history are as significant as those of Tezuka Osamu, Saitō Takao, and Ishinomori Shōtarō.”

• Finally for TCJ this week, Tom Shapira takes aim at Joe Gill and Pat Boyette’s Peacemaker, before swinging the reticle over to DC’s incarnation of that character, newly promoted to the multimedia big leagues - “There was a whole line of DC books around that period which felt of a kind, the morally-grey clock-and-dagger spycraft superheroes. Vigilante, Checkmate, Captain Atom, Manhunter and, of course, Suicide Squad. All of these portrayed morally dubious characters in the clutches of the military-industrial complex, bad people making bad decisions for the greater good. But, apart from Suicide Squad, none of them managed to square the circle of presenting protagonists the audience wants to root for while showing them doing dirty deeds. These characters usually ended up being more James Bond than George Smiley, happily blowing bad guys away – their own worst excess justified by the general nefariousness of their enemies.”

• Over at NeoText, Chloe Maveal wrote in celebration of the joyous superhero work of Paris Cullins, and the bold humour of Julian Totino Tedesco’s cover illustrations.

• Brian Hibbs continues Tilting at Windmills for The Beat, and, wouldn’t you know it, November was not great for retailers, thanks to, well, *gestures at everything*.

• For Solrad, Tony Wei Ling views the embedded racism of alt-comix through the lens of We Told You So: Comics As Art; and Jonathan Gaboury explores the borders, walls, and The Wall present in the comics of Gilbert Hernandez and the bound collections of these.

• Shelfdust’s Field Theory series continued as Charlotte Finn found little to be enjoyed in Garfield’s encounter with a talking tree, meanwhile Tiffany Babb considered the unique qualities of The Brave and the Bold #200, Jim Dandenau examined the childhood trauma threaded through Mister Miracle #10, and Steve Morris spun the wheel on Uncanny X-Men #177’s falling at the finish line.

• As we are now firmly into the holiday season that can only mean one thing - best of the year lists, by the bucketful - so here is our first batch of organically sourced rundowns of 2021’s finest graphicked novels from The Washington Post, School Library Journal, and NPR.

• Mike Peterson rounded up the editorial beat, as injustice remained blind, the holiday season arrived, political machinations continued, malignant diseases festered, and the Court reigned Supreme.

• In the world of free-to-read academia, the second edition of the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies made its way to the internet, with articles on story elements of isekai manga, and the tragedy of eating in Ishida Sui’s Tokyo Ghoul - the first edition can still be viewed here.

• Also on the open-access academic front, writing for the Journal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies, Huw Thomas uses the General Theory of Verbal Humour to analyse Private Eye cartoons targeting religion, in the wake of cartoons representing the Prophet Mohammed having been published in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten in 2005.

A quiet day in the studio... This week’s audio/visual delights.

• Kicking off this week’s selection with more Batman Books Burning in Hell, as Matt Seneca and Tucker Stone were joined by special guest Chris Mautner to discuss Detective Comics/Batman Family, and how you got the bang for your buck from the comics newsstand, plus: Gorilla body-swaps.

• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden appreciated the Thick Lines of Natsuko Ishitsuyo’s Magician A, the depravity found therein, and the qualities of a decent butt-plug poster.

• 2000 AD’s Thrill-cast celebrated the old and the new, as MOLCH-R spoke with Zina Hutton about (In)Famous, and Oliver Pickles and David Roach about assembling the Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition.

• Brian Hibbs convened Comix Experience’s Graphic Novel clubs, welcoming Declan Shalvey, Rory McConville and Joe Palmer to discuss Time Before Time for the grown-ups edition, and Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover to discuss Wrassle Castle for the younger readers channel.

• A mere federal holiday wouldn’t stop Cartoonist Kayfabe, and so Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg kept on keeping on, taking a look at more Gaiman vs McFarlane larks, unauthorised John Byrne superhero comics, R Crumb in Weirdo #17, Gilbert Shelton’s The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, José Muñoz’ work on Alack Sinner, Joe Quesada’s on Marvel Knights Double Shot #1, Darrow pencils and Corben colors, and a career-spanning interview with Peter Chung.

• A couple of episodes of Mangasplaining, as David Brothers led the crew through a dive into the emphatically NSFW world of Akira Hiramoto’s RaW Hero Volume 1, and Christopher Butcher took the helm for a look at the relatively SFW Look Back by Tatsuki Fujimoto.

• Checking in with Off Panel and David Harper welcomed Joshua Dysart to the show to talk about his career in comics, and Aditya Bidikar to discuss the scientific art of comics lettering.

• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come took a trip to AnimeNYC (which is making the news for the wrong reasons at the moment) with a recording of the panel ‘Webcomics and the Future of Manga and Graphic Novels’ with speakers Janna Morishima, Michael Son, George Rohacs, Manuel Godoy, and Heidi MacDonald; and show floor interviews with Stephane Metayer, Erika Swanson, and Kitson.

• A couple of visits to the Virtual Memories Show to close proceedings, as Gil Roth spoke with Matt Madden about Ex Libris and contemporary cultural knowledge, and with Edward Sorel about Profusely Illustrated and a storied career in cartooning.

That’s all for this week, back again soon with more - we’re in the final stretch of the year now, so let us see if the comics industry can’t just behave itself for the next 4 weeks. 

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